Kate Milner Rabb.

A tour through Indiana in 1840; the diary of John Parsons of Petersburg, Virginia online

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beth 's frock was pure white with green crepe shawl.
Beneath the rim of her bonnet, half-hidden, moss
rose buds were peeping, symbol of maiden mod-

The pleasure garden, wiiile within the plat of the
city, is so remote as to be really in the country, and
when we at last came to it I was amazed at its beauty
and the taste with which it is laid out.

The proprietor is an Englishman, by name John
Hodgkins, and 'tis said 'tis marvelous what a trans-
formation he has worked here. The acre on which
it stands contains an ice house, where he stores ice
for the freezing of his creams, and the confectionery
where he manufactures his wares, and the remainder
of the grounds is covered with an orchard of apples
and other fruit trees under which are arranged
rustic seats. Flower beds dot the plat, and wind-
ing graveled paths' lead to vine-clad bowers and


summer houses; altogether a more charming place
and a more delightful company was never looked

Here came together most of the young people 1
have met during my stay in the city the fair Miss
Mary Sanders, accompanied by Mr. Duncan, the two
pretty Miss Browns, and a number of other young
females whose names I have already forgotten, Mr.
Hugh O'Neal, Mr. Vance Noel, Mr. Nat and Mr.
John Cook, both accomplished Thespians, and Mr.
Ned Tyler, member of the brass band and most ac-
complished Thespian of them all.

Never, surely, have I passed a more enchanting
evening than this one in the pleasure garden, nor
one with more variety of entertainment; the back-
ground of green and flowers setting off the delicate
costumes of the young females, the handsome young
men, the flushed cheek, the bright eye, the whispered
compliment. We walked in couples about the grav-
eled paths, we sat in the summer houses, we gath-
ered together over our creams and confections, and
then, our conversation. "Ah, the dalliance and the
wit," as Shakespeare puts it. 'Twas then, as we
lingered, with twilight falling, and the stars hang-
ing low over us, that Mr. Tyler, at our solicitation,
sang a new song and one most beautiful and touch-
ing. J Tis called, ' ' Isle of Beauty, Fare Thee Well. ' '
I had already perused it, but was not prepared for
its excessive beauty and its sadness, when sung in
such a voice, and with such surroundings. The last
verse I shall not soon forget it I will here tran-
scribe ;


"When the waves are round me breaking,

As I pace the deck alone,
And my eye in vain is seeking

Some green leaf to rest upon;
What would I not give to wander

Where my own companions dwell ?
Absence makes the heart grow fonder,

Isle of Beauty, fare thee well ! ' '

My heart was seized with a strange foreboding.
This, this was the Isle of Beauty, this little city
where I have been made so welcome, and I I am
the one who is leaving these companions of a few
days. "Will they forget me? We left the tables
soon after the song, for another perambulating of
the graveled walks preparatory to our leave-taking,
for twilight was now falling and we must return to
the city. I still remained with Miss Elizabeth, whom
I had discovered in our conversation to be a young
lady of singular accomplishments and charms, and
we wandered silently about, past the vine-draped
arbors, the little bowers, until summoned by the

I spoke little until our arrival at the inn, then,
having bade farewell to the others with a forced
gayety, I asked her, as she lingered on the portico,
for a flower she had plucked in the garden and still
held in her slender fingers. She gave it to me, blush-
ing, but laughing, too, at my melancholy face.

"If 'twill but make you smile, sir," she said.
"Be not so melancholy! No one is dead, nor likely
to be, and you will find it just as merry, I'll venture
to say, the next place you go ! "

Her light laugh followed me up the stairway.


The stage on which I am to journey northward
to .Logansport makes two trips a week, and belongs
to the line of a Mr. Vigus of Logansport. The
stage line is a new one, having been in operation only
two years, and the stages, which I have already ob-
served during my stay here, are fine, new and shin-
ing, drawn by four horses, and carrying the United
States mails. I am told that they cost $600 a piece,
and that they are a matter of great pride to the
settlers along the road. The Michigan Road on
which they run is -a great thoroughfare during eight
months of the year, I am told, and affords an open
passable highway to a new and very attractive coun-
try, but during the winter 'tis an endless stream of
black mud, almost impassable.

I shall close my diary now until my arrival at
Logansport, as some of my young friends are com-
ing to bid me 'Godspeed on my journey. My clothes
are packed, my carpet bags locked, I shall soon be
embarked for the Wabash country !



IT was a cool, pleasant June morning when I took
my seat in the Vigus line coach, having bade
farewell to my young friends who had gathered
to see me go. The coach was not crowded, as fre-
quently happens, and I found myself seated .next
to a gentleman of most pleasing appearance a-little
below the medium height, compactly built, with
ruddy complexion, blue eyes, and light brown hair.
It was not long until we fell into conversation, for
I had many questions to ask, and I presently learned
that he was Mr. Edward A. Hannegan 1 of Coving-
ton, of whom I had already heard as Democratic
candidate for Congress against Mr. Henry S. Lane
of Crawfordsville.

It appeared, in the course of our conversation,
that Mr. Hannegan loves the Wabash country
greatly, and when he learned that I was from Vir-
ginia and on a voyage of discovery, he gave me
many most interesting details concerning the coun-
try and its settlement, in which he was joined by
other gentlemen passengers, so that I found my

*E. A. Hannegan, born in Ohio, studied law in Kentucky, located
at Covington, Ind. Entered politics. State Legislature, 1833. Con-
gress, 1835. Defeated for Congress, 1840. United States Senate,
1845. Minister to Prussia, 1849. Recalled. Died in St. Louis,
1859. Editor.



journey, while much slower than I had . expected,
occupying, as it did, over two days, very instructive
and edifying.

Mr. Hannegan informed me that he could never
endure to remain long away from the " lovely val-
ley of the Wabash," and that while in Washington
he longed for it continually. He dwelt at length
upon its beauty and the fertility of the soil, on the
alternating prairies and hills, and then, of the stream
itself, extending from the northern part of the state
to its southernmost tip, and forming part of its west-
ern boundary. Its whole length exceeds 500 miles,
and there is but a very small distance that does not
present an inviting soil to the agriculturist. The
name of this stream in French was Ouabache, and
it appears to have been discovered before the Ohio,
and is found on maps before the year 1730 ; the Ohio
at its mouth was called the Ouabache. Settlements
were made at a very early period at Vincennes and
at the mouth of the Wea or Ouiatenon, where the
Jesuits had their missions and schools, and the bark
canoes of the Indians and French, these gentlemen
declared to me, at certain seasons of the year passed
from Lake Erie to the Mississippi, by way of the
Maumee, a short portage to Little River and the

From Mr. Hannegan and my other companions,
I learned much of great tides of immigration that
some years ago had set toward this part of the state.
'Twas said that in 1834, the streets of Indianapolis
were one moving mass of men, women and chil-
dren, carriages, wagons, cattle, horses, hogs and


sheep, all joyously wending their way to their new
habitations in the Wabash country. As many as
twenty towns, 'tis said, were laid out in this re-
gion from 1827 to 1834; in 1827 'twas reported that
200 families passed through Centerville bound for
the Wabash country in the months of September and
October. This statement was made by one of the
passengers, a young gentleman residing in Carroll
County, so he said, who was a boy at the time, and
remembered that as his family passed through Rich-
mond and Centerville they were annoyed continually
by the croaking predictions of ill luck uttered on all
sides. "You will never get through," said one.
"You will die if you go to the Wabash; every one
that goes there dies in less than a year," said an-
other. This, I presume, from the "Wabash ague"
of which my friend, Dr. Peabody of Vernon, had
told me, which is so much more dangerous to life
than the ordinary "chills and fever" of the other

My fellow travelers explained to me that these
settlers all poured along the roads that centered in
Indianapolis, taking from there the Crawfordsville
or Terre Haute trails. When the building of the
canals began in 1827 the crowd swelled still more,
for speculators held out great inducements to
city builders and to settlers along the canal

This Michigan Road over which we were travel-
ing begins, it seems, at Lake Michigan and runs
south to Indianapolis, then south again to Madison,
its purpose being altogether similar to that of the


Cumberland or National Road. Until its construc-
tion some years ago, there was no way for travelers
to reach the northern part of the state save by In-
dian trails. However, this road, agreed the passen-
gers, is no easy or comfortable route. I marveled
at this, for to me the travel seemed easy enough,
save for an occasional jolting over the corduroys.
However, my companions reminded me that there
had been no rain for some time. Had there been,
summer though it is, they informed me, we would
be finding ourselves jolting from one bog to another,
at one moment on an almost floating bridge of cor-
duroys ; at another mired in a mudhole and all alight-
ing to lend assistance in dragging and pushing the
coach out again.

I rejoiced, therefore, at my good fortune at find-
ing such fair weather and looked forth with some
curiosity on the landscape, interrogating my com-
panions at frequent intervals.

Passing through the county of Marion and a cor-
ner of Hamilton County, we came into Boone, the
first stop being Eagle Village, a pleasant town of
about thirty houses.

This county was named, I am told, after the cele-
brated Daniel Boone, whose love of forest life, enter-
prise, and disinterestedness were prototypes of
much that is admirable in Western manners. The
country is level or agreeably undulating, and the
soil is very fertile, and in no part of the state, they
say, is the timber heavier or of better quality. One
of my informants, the young gentleman from Car-
roll County, declared that it is not uncommon to


see on a single acre 100 oak trees averaging four
inches in diameter, and from eighty to 100 feet in
height. The principal products, he informed me,
are wheat, corn, beef, pork, honey, etc., and cattle,
hogs, horses and mules are driven to market.

This conversation suggested a most amusing in-
cident to an elderly gentleman who had heretofore
remained silent.

"You must understand, young sir," said he, ad-
dressing me, "that in the thirteen or more years
that have elapsed since the settling of this county,
great changes have occurred. The heavy timber,
level surface, and porous soil of Boone were not very
attractive to the agriculturist at the first settlement
and accordingly the pursuit of game and the col-
lection of skins, furs and wild honey were reckoned
far more important than any kind of farming. The
only real necessaries for a family at that time were
two rifles, powder and lead, a barrel of salt, a camp
kettle, and a couple of dogs. At this time, the only
currency was the skins of deer, raccoons, mink and
wild honey, and even now, though we have a con-
siderable number of farmers, a large amount of
money is made by these hunters and trappers, some
even acquiring as much as five thousand dollars a

"In these early days," he continued, " 'tis said
that a traveler from Cincinnati came hither in com-
pany with a resident of the county and encountered
on the road a man whose horse was so covered with
the skins of ' varmints' as almost to hide both horse
and rider, and the only information he could get was


that this was the collector of the county seat with
the ' funds ' from one of the townships. ' '

When asked if this were true, he replied with a
laugh: "Well, at any rate, the story found its way
into the newspapers, and those who gave full credit
to the statement must have supposed the collector
of Boone had an odd set of customers to collect his
poll tax from. The coon skins, it was said, were
for the state, the deer for county revenue and the
mink for change. ' '

When we laughed over this, he told another story
to illustrate to me the rudeness of pioneer life. In
those early days one of the judges, who, for want
of other accommodations, had taken his luncheon to
court, was supposed at a distance to be reading a
newspaper, when, on nearer approach, it was ascer-
tained that he was eating a large buckwheat pan-

Noting the considerable difference in vegetation
in this and the lands contiguous to the Ohio River,
I made inquiries concerning both fauna and flora,
and set them down in order in my book, as they were
enumerated to me. I did this at a tavern where the
mail was being sorted. The mail pouch is carried
under the driver's seat, and as the pouches are
scarce in this new country, the stage is compelled to
stand at the small towns along the line while the
postmaster opens the pouch and makes up the out-
going mail.

As to the quadrupeds, I was informed that the
buffalo long ago disappeared, but their bones are
found about the ' ' salt licks, ' ' and their paths known


as "traces" were frequently used as trails by the
first settlers. The bear, panther, wild cat, beaver
and others are now but seldom met with except in
the unsettled parts of the state. "Wolves are more
numerous. But the deer, opossum, raccoon, and
several species of squirrels are sometimes more nu-
merous than when the country was first settled.
When nuts and other food they are fond of in the
forest fail, they migrate to the vicinity of the culti-
vated fields and supply themselves there, and their
numbers are sometimes immense. Besides these,
the fox, porcupine, polecat, ground hog, rabbit, mink,
muskrat, weasel, mole, mouse and gopher are found
in particular localities, but not usually in great num-
bers. In place of the animals that have left, others
have been gained by migration. Rats are not yet
found in new parts of the state, but they are be-
coming very numerous in other parts.

Singing birds were rare a few years since, but a
variety has rapidly followed the increase of civili-
zation. Not being carnivorous, they are not usually
found except where fields of grain are cultivated.
Of birds originally found in this country, the most
common are the wild turkey, prairie fowl, partridge
or quail, pigeons, geese, ducks and cranes. Pheas-
ants, paroquets, woodpeckers, Baltimore birds, red
birds, mocking birds, humming birds, indeed, most
of the birds of the Eastern states are found here,
but not usually in large numbers. Of carnivorous
birds, the eagle, the buzzard, the hawk, the crow
or raven, the owl, etc., are occasionally found.

Two most interesting facts concerning these birds :


There are here great numbers of wild pigeons, so
vast indeed that sometimes in flight they obscure the
sun. They sometimes resort to roosts in such large
numbers that for miles nearly all the small branches
of a thick forest are broken off by them. The sec-
ond concerns the cranes. On the large prairies in
the northwest part of the state it is not uncommon,
I was assured, to pass in a single hour thousands of
sand hill cranes who stand quietly and gaze at the
traveler from a distance of but a few rods.

Reptiles abound, the most formidable being the
copperhead and the rattlesnake, and many a pioneer
has had a gruesome story to tell of encounters with
these formidable foes, whose bite is so poisonous as
to occasion death. However, the fires on the prai-
ries destroy them and the hogs running at large are
their inveterate enemies.

One gentleman, who seemed inclined to an interest
in scientific matters, informed me that Dr. Richard
Dale Owen reports that none of the precious metals
will ever be found in Indiana, unless in minute por-
tions in bowlders or in small quantities in combina-
tion with other metals. This Dr. Owen, I learned to
my great pleasure, is a brother of Robert Dale Owen,
and a scientist of great repute, and when State Geol-
ogist made exploratory tours of the state and pub-
lished the result of this in a volume entitled "Re-
port of a Geological Reconnaissance of the State of

We had by this time come into Clinton County
and approached the village of Kirklin, named after
its proprietor, Nathan Kirk, this and Michigantown


being the only towns in this county on the Michigan
Road. Thence we passed into Cass County, of which
Logansport is the seat of justice and the objective
point of my journey.

A part of this county, I was informed, is level and
consists of prairie land; the other, either bottom
land, along the rivers, or high bluff land. The
Wabash and the Eel Rivers run swiftly through this
county; they have high banks and solid rock bot-
toms, and afford an immense amount of water power.

A gentleman, a fellow passenger, who later gave
me interesting information concerning the Indians,
informed me that in a prairie southeast of Logans-
port there is a spring that boils up from the center
of the mound, six feet above the level surface of the
prairie. Three miles below Logansport is a stream
that turns a saw mill on the top of a bluff 150 feet
high, and then pitches down the whole distance with
but few interruptions. This stream has its source
only a mile and a half in the rear of the bluff.

Two points clearly mark the difference between
this and the earlier parts of my journey. This part
of the country being so much more recently settled
is much less advanced the life is much more that
of the pioneer than in the other localities visited.
Also, there is much that is interesting connected with
the aborigines. Frequently, on the road hither, the
sites of villages were pointed out to me that were
very recently entirely inhabited by Indians and a
few French traders. The country about Logansport
was inhabited, I am told, by the Pottawotamies and
the Miamis, the former being the owners and pro-


prietors of the lands north of the "Wabash, and the
Miamis, south, and both dwelling along the Eel.

I have already spoken of the Black Hawk War in
connection with the story of the ' ' Bloody Three Hun-
dred" in Indianapolis. It was this war that caused
the settlers to be continually uneasy over their In-
dian neighbors ; undoubtedly, too, these settlers cast
covetous eyes on the Indian lands. There was con-
tinual trouble between them, and various treaties
and purchases made until finally the Pottawotamies
were removed to a reservation in the West. 2

* "The best illustration of the attitude which the Indiana settlers
bore toward the Indians is their treatment of the Pottawotamies,
whom they forcibly expelled from the state in 1838. The Potta-
wotamies originally hunted over the region south of Lake Michigan,
north of the Wabash and west of the St. Joseph and St. Mary's Rivers.
As early as 1817, in a treaty at Fort Meigs, the government adopted
the unfortunate policy of making special reservations for Indian
chiefs who refused to join the tribe in selling land. As a result of
this policy, several bands of Pottawotamies had special reservations
in Marshall and adjoining counties. The treaty of 1832 took from
the tribe its tribal lands, leaving the chief Menominee a reservation
around Twin Lakes. ... In fact, the Indians claimed and occupied
the whole county except a strip of land which they had given the
state for the Michigan Road. ... In 1834 a commission tried to buy
the land. . . . Col. Abel C. Pepper, Indian agent, finally succeeded
in buying the Indians out at $1 an acre, and giving them the
privilege of remaining two years on the land. The Indians asserted
that this cession was obtained by unfair means. Anticipating the
sale which was to take place when the Indian lease expired, Aug. 5,
1838, the squatters began to enter the country and settle on Indian
land. . . . The Indians began to show resentment as the time for
their forced migration approached. . . . They made no excuses for
their outbreaks and refused to leave their homes. . . . Squads of
soldiers patrolled the country in all directions looking for the In-
dians and driving them in. ... All the Indian cabins and wigwams
were destroyed. . . . Early on the morning of Sept. 4, Tipton com-
menced to load the thirteen army wagons in which their goods was
to be removed (their destination was the Osage River, Kansas).
The journey required about two months and cost the lives of one-
fifth of the tribe." (Esarey.) Editor.


Two of the gentlemen in the coach told me some-
thing of the incident of the removal. One of them,
a Mr. Sluyter, said, "I lived near the Menominee
village at that time, just north of Twin Lakes, and
was present when the Indians were congregating
there in September to be removed to the new reser-
vation. Their village was composed of seventy-five
or a hundred log huts and wigwams of poles covered
with bark or matting, erected without any system.
The soldiers disarmed the Indians, taking from them
their guns, tomahawks, axes, bows and arrows,
knives, etc., and placed them in wagons for trans-
portation. They marched off in single file, a soldier
at the head of about every forty or fifty. It was
indeed a sad sight to see them leaving their homes
and hunting grounds, where many of them had lived
all their lives, and going to a strange land concern-
ing which they knew nothing. Over 800 started on
that September morning. After they left the wig-
wams were torn down and burned."

A younger man, not over 22 I should judge, said
that he went with the caravan to Kansas as a team-
ster, driving a four-horse team. The Indians, he
said, were afraid of the wagons and could not be
induced to ride in them unless so feeble that walk-
ing was impossible. He told of their sufferings
from hunger, thirst and fatigue.

It was with considerable curiosity that I ap-
proached Logansport, named, I was told, for the In-
dian chief of that name, and I was not disappointed
in my anticipations. It lies in the center of the
county, and has a most beautiful situation in the


valleys of the Wabasli and the Eel, occupying ground
between the two rivers at their junction, with the
hills rising to a height of 150 feet to the north and
south. The town thus lying in the valley with two
rivers flowing through it and uniting their waters
at its very heart, presents a most picturesque

The interest and importance of the town are en-
hanced moreover by the Wabash and Erie Canal,
which is to extend from the northeast to the south-
west corners of the state, from the city of Fort
Wayne to Evansville on the Ohio River, and a part
of which is already completed. Of this canal I ex-
pect soon to know more, as the next stage of my
journey is to be made on its waters.

I stopped at the Mansion House, kept by a Mr.
Douglass, which I found an agreeable resting place,
and fitted up in good style. As my stay in this city
was to be very brief, I hastened at once to seek out
Mr. D. D. Pratt, 3 to whom I had a letter from Mr.
Calvin Fletcher, in whose office Mr. Pratt had once
engaged in the practice of the law. I observed the
town with much interest as I passed along; it has
less than 1,000 inhabitants, I judge, but because of
its location on rivers and canal and its plentiful
water power, gives promise of flourishing growth.
I noted its bridge, a handsome covered structure

*Eon. D. D. Pratt, born in Maine, 1813; died in Logansport, 1877.

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Online LibraryKate Milner RabbA tour through Indiana in 1840; the diary of John Parsons of Petersburg, Virginia → online text (page 13 of 26)